Scott Marlowe
Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

What's On My Reading List: Robin Hobb

I've got a jumpstart on this one since I've already read the Farseer Trilogy (Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin's Quest), so next on my reading list are the three novels of the Tawny Man trilogy: Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, and Fool's Fate.

The Tawny Man books pick up the story of FitzChivalry Farseer, royal assassin, bastard son of Chivalry, and grandson to King Shrewd. His story in the Farseer books ended in a very bittersweet fashion. Needless to say, I've wanted to read this series for a long time.

I'll post reviews as I finish each read.

Assassin's Apprentice Royal Assassin Assassin's Quest
Fool's Errand Golden Fool Fool's Fate

Interesting Words: Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey


One of the things I often do as I'm reading a novel or short story is keep track of words whose definitions I do not know or that I find interesting. Either way, these interesting words are ones I feel might be of use in my own writing. That, and it's good to expand one's vocabulary every once in a while.

This latest round of interesting words comes from Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim.

alembic: An apparatus consisting of two vessels connected by a tube, formerly used for distilling liquids.

doubloon: A gold coin formerly used in Spain and Spanish America.

drachma: An ancient Greek silver coin.

gendarme: Originally, in France, a man-at-arms; a knight or cavalier armed at all points and commanding a troop; afterward, a member of a company or corps of cavalry; a cavalryman: sometimes also used for soldier in general.

mugwort: Any of several aromatic plants of the genus Artemisia, especially A. vulgaris,native to Eurasia and sometimes used as a condiment.

orrery: A mechanical model of the solar system.

ossuary: A container or receptacle, such as an urn or a vault, for holding the bones of the dead.

zoetrope: An optical toy, in which figures made to revolve on the inside of a cylinder, and viewed through slits in its circumference, appear like a single figure passing through a series of natural motions as if animated or mechanically moved.

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The Five Elements - Chapter 7: Promises

Back in early 2011, I serialized The Five Elements chapter-by-chapter. The individual posts had thousands of viewers, of which I am appreciative. However, since that time, I enrolled the novel in Amazon's KDP Select program. One of the conditions of this enrollment is that the electronic version of the novel remain exclusive to Amazon. This means this serialization needs to go on hiatus. If you would like to read the novel, please head over to Amazon where you can purchase the Kindle or print version.

The Five Elements now on Smashwords

For a limited time (12/16/10 - 1/2/10), use coupon code FR54P to get The Five Elements for $.99.

My fantasy novel, The Five Elements, is now available on Smashwords for purchase or you can download the first 20% for free.

View The Five Elements on SmashwordsI like Smashwords. I especially like the fact that they sell my eBooks in a variety of formats: HTML, MOBI/Kindle, EPUB, PDF, RTF, LRF, PDB, and TXT. (I believe you can opt out of any of those formats, but why would you?)

I also like that Smashwords distributes my eBooks beyond their own site. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, Diesel, Kobo, and the Sony store. I opt out of Amazon only because I use Amazon's DTP service for publishing in their store.

One of the potential downsides I've seen is that my eBooks seem to get lost amidst the thousands of other titles out there on the Smashwords site. But this is a problem with each of the online retailers, too. I'll admit it's an issue I'm still struggling to overcome.

I've listed The Five Elements at the same price of $2.99 that I sell it for on

[ Buy The Five Elements from Smashwords now or buy from in Kindle format ]

Favorite Reads of 2010

Best Books of 2010

Although we're not quite done with 2010, I'm starting to wind down my attempt at reading 50 books. I'm about halfway through my current read, and then I might be able to finish one more book after that before 2011 is upon us.

Looking back, here's a list of some of my favorite reads over the past year.

dragonhaven Dragon's Haven by Robin Hobb

[ read my review ]
sandmanslim Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

[ read my review ]
View this book on The Gunslinger by Stephen King

[ read my review ]
View this book on Cugel's Saga by Jack Vance

[ read my review ]
View this book on Ephemera by Paul S. Kemp

[ read my review ]
View this book on Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

[ read my review ]
View this book on Sky of Swords by David Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on Lord of the Fire Lands by Dave Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword by Tee Morris

[ read my review ]
View this book on The Gilded Chain by Dave Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on The Alchemist's Pursuit by Dave Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on The Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance

[ read my review ]
View this book on The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

[ read my review ]
View this book on The Alchemist's Code by Dave Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on Old Man's War by John Scalzi

[ read my review ]

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Scott Marlowe | Book Review: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Book Review: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

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I'm taking LibraryThing's 50 Book Reading Challenge for 2010. This is my 6th read of the 50.

Novels in the Tales of the Dying Earth series include:

  1. The Dying Earth (this post)
  2. The Eyes of the Overworld
  3. Cugel's Saga
  4. Rhialto the Marvellous 

The Dying Earth by Jack Vance is part of the Tales of the Dying Earth omnibus. Other novels included in the compilation include The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga, and Rhialto the Marvellous.

Jack Vance is one of the most prolific and popular science fiction and fantasy writers of our time. Many of his works are considered classics. The individual novels found in the Tales of the Dying Earth are certainly amongst them. I found it of particular interest that Vance, like myself, spent part of his childhood in the areas of San Francisco and Sacramento:

Vance's early childhood was spent in San Francisco. With the early separation of his parents, Vance's mother moved young Vance and his siblings to Vance's maternal grandfather's California ranch near Oakley in the delta of the Sacramento River. This early setting formed Vance's love of the outdoors, and allowed him time to indulge his passion as an avid reader. With the death of his grandfather, the Vance's family fortune nosedived, and Vance was forced to leave junior college and work to support himself, assisting his mother when able. Vance plied many trades for short stretches: a bell-hop (a "miserable year"), in a cannery, and on a gold dredge,[3] before entering the University of California, Berkeley where, over a six-year period, he studied mining engineering, physics, journalism and English. Vance wrote one of his first science fiction stories for an English class assignment; his professor's reaction was “We also have a piece of science fiction” in a scornful tone, Vance’s first negative review.[4] He worked for a while as an electrician in the naval shipyards at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii -- for "56 cents an hour". After working on a degaussing crew for a period, he left about a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor.[3]

The Dying Earth was originally published in 1950. In length, it is more novella than novel, coming in at 130 pages (figure 32,500 words; 250 words/page * 130 pages), and is, in fact, a collection of short stories. The stories share a common world: a future so far advanced that technology has become more akin to magic, even to the point where the few who still understand how the technology works are called sorcerers. Going into this compilation, I thought I was going to be reading science fiction. It was with some surprise, therefore, that I found the stories more fantasy than science fiction despite the presence of very advanced technology. In fact, in this first segment of Tales, the only technology that is recognizable as such is a sort of jet car in the story Ulan Dhor. The rest of it is described in a distinctively Dungeons & Dragons manner, with "spells" being cast with such names as Phandaal's Mantle of Stealth and another called Prismatic Spray (I'm almost certain there is a spell of the same name in Dungeons & Dragons; it's been a long time since I've played). In any case, it's clear where the founders of the game, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, found at least some of their inspiration.

The stories in The Dying Earth are told with an almost fairy tale or fable quality to them. Vance's style is of the classic era: matter-of-fact and to the point. They're enjoyable reads nonetheless. Also, one story sometimes will lead into another, with characters spanning one or more stories or sometimes making a cameo or maybe even a quick mention. This does much to solidify the experience of being in a 'real' world as the characters often run into each other and have realistic interactions as a result.

At only 130 pages, this first part of Tales of the Dying Earth is a quick read. But because this is a compilation you've got books 2, 3, and 4 right there. The whole collection comes in at just over 700 pages.